|Title:||Interview with Tristan Nitot|
|Contributed by:||[no contributor]|
|Added on:||4 May 2007|
|Type of Object:||Sound|
Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, talks about the organization's history and other aspects of Mozilla and open source.
Tom Scheinfeldt: Could you just give your name and your age just to mark the interview off?
Tristan Nitot: My name is Tristan Nitot. As you may hear from my accent, I’m French and I’m 39.
Olivia Ryan: Why don’t you tell us what you do at Mozilla, how you got started working at Mozilla?
TN: I’m the founder and currently president of Mozilla Europe which is an international affiliate of the Mozilla Foundation. I have been involved with the Mozilla project since the very early days because I was working at Netscape. I started at Netscape in ’97 and in early ’98 I was the one to announce the creation of the mozilla.org thing, the project to the press and to my Netscape colleagues in Paris and in Europe overall and I wanted to work on the project but even though I’m an engineer, I’m focusing on marketing and PR and general organization and they didn’t need someone like me back then, especially in Paris, so I had to wait a long time and do something else at Netscape until in 2001, where there was a position to become a technology evangelist in order to let the world know about the Mozilla project and the fact that there would be a new browser in town and so web developers should be ready and make sure that their website would be compatible with the Mozilla browser or Netscape 6 at the time.
In 2003, things became more serious in the sense that everybody at Netscape was let go and with the colleagues in France, we had decided that we could not leave the project like that just dying because it was going through difficult times and so we decided to create Mozilla Europe which is a non-profit organization and since then I’ve been leading this organization and that’s it.
OR: What are some of your day-to-day activates?
TN: I try to have the project go well in Europe, so—
OR: You manage marketing?
TN: Yes, I focus on marketing and PR because these are two things that my engineer colleagues don’t want to do because they’re basically doing better, harder stuff somewhere, some other pieces of the project, and basically— Well, yes, I do what other people don’t want to do and marketing and PR just fall into this category. I do general organization. Whenever achievement is, for example, to have the localized websites in 21 European languages because, of course, for us, making the Mozilla product successful means that you have an actual website but it’s not in just one language, it’s as many languages as it can and we started with four and now we’re up to 21 languages for an official website but we also make sure that the various localizers, that people have a slate of products into their native languages are doing things well, are efficient in their job. They’re all volunteers, so it’s— And they all speak a different language. They’re all in different countries in Europe so it’s interesting. It’s difficult but it’s very interesting and we also make sure that we have local communities that are talking to our user base and doing support, help, animations, tradeshows, for example, stuff like that who present us there. It’s very interesting.
TS: How do you generally communicate with the people that you’re working with in these various countries?
TN: Mostly by email and instant messaging and sometimes on IRC but I’m not very— I’m not a fan of IRC. Actually, I’m too big fan of it which is when I start using it, I spend too much time on it so I refrain from using it because it’s too time consuming. It makes me too reachable, if you will, and I end up not doing enough work, so I tend to use email the most and then AOL Instant Messenger and then IRC, depending on my workload.
TS: What kind of groups do you work in? What size are the groups of the various projects that you work in? Large groups? Small groups? On your own?
TN: We have two sets of localizers and for some people, these overlap so we have product localizers and we have website localizers and in some cases, it’s the same people and while basically it’s a set of 30 people I would say, mostly on the website localization project and also I interact with my U.S. colleagues for interaction, new content on the website or PR stuff or new releases so it’s—
I tend really to be a link between the U.S. and the various groups in the countries so I filter and I relay information between the two. There are things that they don’t need to know and so I save it for me, but I make sure they know about important things like release dates and stuff like that.
TS: How is it decided sort of who’s in charge of the localization communities?
TN: I don’t know. [laughs] Well, I tend not to be really involved in the product localization. Now we’re lucky enough to have with us Axel Hecht which is one of the board member who’s in Europe and Axel is spending his time on making sure the product is localized in every language, not just European languages, but Europe is the top region where localization is important. For a single region, you need like 20 languages, so he may be able to answer this question better than I do. I spend a lot of time with people who localize the websites which may or may not be the same people that do product localization.
TS: What is the working relationship between the Mozilla Foundation Corporation here and Mozilla Europe and why is there a division and why do you see that as necessary and do you see any obstacles to having that division?
TN: Oh, the situation has its roots in the history of the project. In summer 2003 when everybody from Netscape was let go, Peter Van der Beken which is the person who helped me start Mozilla Europe and myself, we had some spare time. For legal reasons we were— Well, in France, at least, you can’t fire someone just like that, take your stuff and we won’t see you this afternoon. It doesn’t work like that, so they have to give you several months’ notice and after that, you have the vacations you didn’t take and various things that end up. In my case, it was eight months where I didn’t have— where I was paid to do nothing basically and I wanted to— Well, I could have found work, a job, and put that money into my pocket and it was certainly an option but I didn’t feel it was really not— or not a good option at least.
The Mozilla project was really into trouble by then and we thought— We really wanted the project to survive and be well and the stake was too big. It’s really the choice of people. It was the future of the web. We could not let it go like that and take the money and do something else. Anyway, we were not interested, so I did have a few job interviews and people finally interviewers ended in understanding that really my heart was with Mozilla and so Peter and myself started Mozilla Europe and we didn’t know where we were going actually. We just wanted to carry this thing and let’s see where it goes.
We knew that we at some point we would need some money behind this eight-month. We were not really concerned by that because we knew after eight months we would have— There’s a program for unemployed people where at least you don’t have to sell your house and all that, but we didn’t want to abuse the system and so we knew that we could do anything we wanted during eight months, but after that we really had to look for a job and it took— Well, we started looking for jobs but it isn’t necessarily taking 50 hours a week to search for a job. Usually you’ve got spare time and we worked hard, so it actually leaves you with more than that. And I don’t remember what your question was.
TS: I was asking about how the organizational structure of Mozilla Europe and relates to the U.S.
TN: So, yeah, getting back to your question—we wanted to work on a project. We thought that it was important to have the Mozilla project not be too U.S.-centric. Every project I’ve been involved with tends— when it’s done in the U.S., it tends to be U.S.-centric, I don’t, I mean, for obvious reasons, right? And there are major differences between U.S. and Europe. There are subtle cultural differences and Europe is actually just a concept, you know, it does not really exist, frankly. It really sucks at this point, but anyway, I mean, people see Europe as a country and it’s definitely not a country, right, like Texas is very different from California and is different from, I don’t know, New York. You see, you know, it’s really a different culture. In Europe, it’s even worse and most of all you have language barriers.
I speak English. I speak French. I can read Spanish. I don’t speak a word of German and there are still Dutch, Italian— I don’t— I cover maybe 15% of the European population where the languages I speak so it’s— Well, it’s totally different and it’s hard to get that when you’re in— Well, you get that when you’re in Europe, but where in the U.S. where to be successful you ship the product in English and then you’re done. For Europe, it’s a totally different story. When you cover four languages, you’re just at the beginning of it.
TS: And is language the biggest reason why there needs to be a Mozilla Europe?
TN: Well, it’s one of the top reasons. One of the other reasons that we have developers in Europe and they were orphans at a time because the Mozilla Foundation which was just created, had very little money to spend and so what they did is hire a few key people and hired them in the Valley for efficiency reasons even though I think we were good in Europe, we were not considered as options and so I didn’t want the European developer community to be disbanded because of that so we needed a structure to have people relate to keep the flame alive.
TS: How separate or integrated is the developer community in Europe and the developer community in the U.S.?
TN: They are tightly integrated. There is a single Mozilla project, which is actually a single CVS repository if you will, and there’s nothing like that in Europe and we don’t want to do that. There is just one single Mozilla project. It was obvious from the start from us because it was that way before and we don’t want to change that, but there are advantages in meeting people in real life, sharing a beer, having dinner, meeting. So meeting in real life is important and so this is the reason why we have been doing Mozilla Europe developer meetings even before Mozilla Europe was created because it’s important and it’s relatively inexpensive to have someone— everybody meet in one place once a year. You can afford that even if you’re a student so it existed before Mozilla Europe and this is a project we carry on and we think it’s, it was smart to have such an event, so this is the kind of thing we do but in the end, we all work for the unique Mozilla project and if Mozilla Europe exists, it’s just because that in the summer 2003 Mozilla Foundation was really too busy to envision—
Well, it had so many things on its to do list like finding offices, securing top contributors, opening bank accounts, finding money, just surviving, so that conquering Europe or maintaining the presence in Europe was so down on their to do list that we knew they weren’t going to do it for quite a long time and so we decided to do it, so having a structure and a community in Europe was important but, at the same time, and I see this— It’s a small and personal opinion related to my job and I knew personally that I could— There were not many people in Mozilla projects in Europe that would be able to do marketing and talk to the press about the project and I think it’s extremely important.
If you go back to the Mozilla project mission statement which is to promote choice and innovation on the Internet, which is a great mission, it’s a gorgeous statement. To achieve this, you have to create a product. The product has to be good and— But that’s not enough. Also the product has to be used by people. This means that you have to tell the people to use it, that they need to know it exists and they need to know that in order to use it and you need to have market share if you want the project to be successful, so it’s not just about delivering a product. It’s making sure it’s used by million of people and I knew that nobody in Europe would be able to do that but me for two reasons: because either they’re really hard-core engineers and they’re totally not interested in doing PR or they are people who don’t have the credibility in the Mozilla project to do it, so I was really the intersection of these two populations, someone who could do PR and someone who was involved already in the Mozilla projects and there was one single person in Europe to do that and it was me and I had eight months free of time ahead of me so it had to be.
OR: So, why do you think Mozilla’s been able to attract so many users, particularly Firefox?
TN: The product is amazing. It is a really really good product, made for the masses. I had been trying to convince people around me to use the Mozilla Suite which was before Firefox and many people wanted to try it to please me because I suggested that you really want to do that in blah, blah, blah and they were not comfortable with the Mozilla Suite because it was too complex, too many options to— By engineers for engineers, basically, and Firefox is totally different in this regard. It’s very nice how many features, mostly unnecessary for the average person have been removed which was painful sometimes, but it was good to see these features go because it enabled us to make a product simpler and appealing to many people.
Then one of the other reasons is that Microsoft was asleep at the wheel for years and the users were not happy and not seeing any new stuff in IE while the web has been evolving significantly and not in the right direction like spyware, adware, pop-ups, phishing and all that and Microsoft has not been evolving for five years and really there was demand on the market for a new browser and nobody was there to address it almost, because Opera was there but their advertising model, you know, business model based on advertising did not, was not good enough to succeed so Firefox came there and I don’t know how to say that without sounding—
OR: So it sounds like marketing has a big thing, that would be the major difference you think between Opera and Firefox is the marketing effort?
TN: Yes and no. We had amazing assets in terms of marketing, the fact that we are non-profit. Now, things are a little bit different but with the Foundation and Mozilla Europe being non-profits, we really do stuff for the good of the public, not for money and as I said, Microsoft was not there, abandoned the people and everybody felt like that or at least our target was understanding that Microsoft did not do what they should have done which is releasing new versions of the product every year or every two years so people were unhappy and we had that community delivering a great product and if you have, you know— Well, you can use this in marketing to make it a success and I’m very proud of what we’ve done with that because we had very very limited money to achieve this.
TS: Do you see a difference in the needs of European users versus— Other than language, let’s say, than U.S. users? Is there— Or put another way, do you need to market Firefox differently in Europe than you do in the U.S.?
TN: No. Not much. Well, no, for the essential, it’s the same. Europe is actually, as I said, a set of markets instead of a single market, so you have places. I think about Spain, for example, where our market share is pretty low where we will need to address specific issues that we don’t have to address, for example, in Germany, because in Germany we’re approaching 50% market share. In France, it’s 18%. Maybe these figures are a bit generous, but if you think there are 3 percentage points too high even though, you know, it’s pretty good figures.
For example, in Spain, there was no what we call technology evangelism, the thing I was involved in early on in the project which is to let the web developers know that there is a browser, announce a new browser, and that you have to make sure that the pages they build also work in Firefox and Opera and Safari and every other browser on earth, so they have to use web standards to be compatible with all the new, modern/alternative browsers. This effort has not been done by anybody in Spain or Italy, for example, because Netscape back then just has not done that- in France, Germany and U.K., so these three markets are doing okay in terms of market share while in Spain and Italy, for example, it has not been done and so Firefox is still incompatible with too many websites and after a while, the user, he’s not happy with the quality of the experience which has nothing to do with the quality of the product itself; it’s on the other end, but still the impression the user gets is that Firefox doesn’t work or doesn’t run well, so this is the kind of thing we need now to address to also save the web in Spain and Italy, for example, but this is also for historical reasons. They’re small markets not really interesting for Netscape at a time. And, anyway, it was easy in the three countries, so— [laughs]
TS: Have you notice sort of any differences of opinion or tensions or just differences in culture between people who work, the developers, people who kind of work on the code and the people who are more involved in marketing and PR and kind of the more business end of things?
TN: Well, it’s hard to say because until recently there were basically two categories of people—engineers and me. I mean, you know, and Mitchell Baker and just a very small number of people who were important but who were also tightly integrated in the community, we’d been there forever, so we know each other, we know how engineers think and all that, so there was no problem until now, but now the management team is growing and the number of marketing people is increasing.
Yes, there is a risk there that marketing people don’t understand how the community works, for example, but so far, what I’ve seen, it’s heading in the right direction. I’m not particularly concerned. I mean, generally speaking, I could be concerned because I know these are two different populations but so far what I’ve seen is that the marketing people we have hired are very curious of the community thinking and all that and they’re willing to listen and they’re not arrogant and I’m glad to be the link between the two because I know the community and I know of the importance of marketing and all that so I think there’s a chance that we do pretty well, but I keep my fingers crossed because you never know in advance.
TS: Why do you think people volunteer to work on Mozilla projects?
TN: I think everybody had got his own answer to this question, so I just could give you mine, but I’m not sure it’s that interesting. Well, anyway, I already told you—I just could not do otherwise. I had to do it. Otherwise, I could not see myself in the mirror in the mornings, I would hate myself. I would not sleep and like, you know, I would hate to have let such an opportunity gone, have it gone because I didn’t care or because I just cared about the money, so— Everybody’s got his own answer.
What I love is working with smart people. The people in the Mozilla projects, on average, they are amazingly smart so this is what makes it— It’s a bit challenging because you won’t be able to bullshit them or anything like that, because— So, you gotta know what you’re saying, right? And so this is one part. Another part is the technology itself is gorgeous and also the fact that it’s a product used by dozens of millions of people in the world and also because it’s really for the public good and the Internet or the web, if you will, is an amazing thing. It enables you to do communication, to meet with communities, to share culture.
If you’ve heard about Wikipedia, I mean, Wikipedia is wow, it’s not perfect but it’s just wow and if the web was not there there would be no Wikipedia. And commerce, I mean, commerce is important, too. And so the web is amazing. I tend to compare it and maybe it’s a bit exaggerated, but I tend to see it as an opportunity for humanity pretty much like the invention of printing, the printing press, was. Before the invention of the printing press and after, before that there was no point in learning and reading and writing because there were no books. Actually, there was the bible and a few hundred copies in each country. There was not much and so there was no point in learning how to read and write and after the invention of the printing press, things were completely different. You had books. You had knowledge spread over the world and all that and I think the web is changing the world also, so maybe on a smaller scale but still, on a very large scale.
So, it’s very impressive, but at the same time, the web is now 12 years old. It’s still the early stages of the web and when you think about it, the web was created in order to get rid of incompatibilities between the various systems. It was invented in Geneva by Tim Berners-Lee and Tim Berners-Lee has invented it because in the research center where he was working, scientists from all over the world came there to work together but they all came with their own computer which was incompatible with the others and they could not share information across computers because they were incompatible so he has imagined a way to read and write reports and pages that could be run across a network from one machine to the other even though they were not compatible initially and this is the whole idea of the web which has— It’s the whole beauty of it.
You can write a page on McIntosh, have it surfed by a Linux system and read by a Windows PC and in theory, at least, you don’t care about that. You don’t care about the machines. You care about the information itself which is the important part of it so this the initial vision of the web, thus in 2000, Microsoft has— Well, in 2001, Microsoft shipped IE 6 and then disbanded the IE development team and at the same time, 95% of web developers were writing web pages that were optimized for Internet Explorer. Well, I tend to say limited to Internet Explorer because of the way I see it and at the same time, IE was not developed anymore. I mean, it’s totally crazy that you do something universal and it ends up in the hands of a single company that is not willing to develop this thing anymore. It was, you know, unbearable to me and unacceptable. This is the reason why I’ve been involved in the Mozilla project.
TS: The Spread Firefox website says that Spread Firefox was founded on the same principles of community involvement that drive the development and testing of Firefox. How do open source principles influence Mozilla marketing techniques and does the marketing of an open source product differ, do you think, from a commercial product?
TN: That’s really two different questions. [laughs] Spread Firefox is a very impressive project which has achieved amazingly well in helping us really quite a lot, but at the same time, I don’t think this project is fully baked. We still have to figure out many things with this, so I have a question—when is this going to be published, if it is?
OR: It will be on our website, the plan is, shortly after— But we don’t have to publish it right away. We can keep it in a dark archive if that’s what you—
TN: No, it’s— Well, very frankly put, I don’t know how I’d say that. I think spreadfirefox.com is at a moment of its history where it has to change or go to the next phase, the next level. It has done wonderful things in the past. Now, it needs to be renew itself and I hope it’s going to happen, so it’s too early to judge whether we have achieved what we’re going to achieve, going to this next level or not. What it has done in the past such as the New York Times campaign, man, that was huge. It was one of the smartest moves ever made in terms of Firefox marketing, so really, for this, it was really an example of what we can do, but we need now to, I don’t know, boost spreadfirefox.com. I want it to evolve in order to get this creativity again which is a bit missing currently.
OR: Would you like to see more newspaper ads and that more kind of traditional—
TN: No, no, no. I want to see creativity again. The New York Times, you don’t do twice or you do the Super Bowl. You don’t do the same thing another time. It’s pompous.
TS: Where do you see that new creativity coming from? Where do you think that will come from?
TN: I don’t know, because we’re inventing it. By the way, I’m not really involved in Spread Firefox myself, so— But we need to invest— Well, first, it’s hard to distinguish the good things from the bad ones, especially when you have 800,000 members who speak. A lot of noise and not too much signal and so the more noise, the harder it is to get the signal, so I don’t know if it’s doable, if we can achieve that, but I’m sure there are interesting ideas within Spread Firefox that aren’t expressed. The harder part is to make them happen, so maybe we should throw in more management or more manpower at Spread Firefox to make it a better tool. The other question was—
TS: Does the marketing of an open source product differ from a commercial product and how?
TN: Yes. It does differ in the sense that we have a community to help. This is also something that we are currently inventing or discovering. I don’t think there was open source marketing or successful open source marketing before what we did with Firefox. Well, maybe it existed but I didn’t really see it. We have been successful in making Firefox a brand and a success in the markets, but we have really targeted technical groups.
Now, we need to go further and this is something else we have to invent—how are we going to go to that next level. Is this something we can do using community marketing? I don’t know. What is certain is that we have to go to the next level. We want to get more market share, always that notion of promoting choice and innovation. People have to use the product in order to be powerful in the market, but one of our big challenges is to not forget the community, not to leave it alone, not to send the wrong signals like you’re not interesting anymore, we have you, we need to go to the average consumer. That would be a terrible thing to do and it’s not easy because we will have to have two voices, one for the community—we love you, we care about you, you’re very useful and they are. I mean, it’s not just—
It’s just not a matter of still being fair with our early supporters, but in the field, they’re very useful in recommending Firefox and also we have to appeal to the average user. We have to convince them from downloading Firefox and running it and this is totally different and it’s not going to be easy, but I hope it’s doable; it’s not going to be easy to be using two different voices at the same time, if you see what I mean. I don’t know about that in the U.S., but certainly in Europe, some of our contributors don’t like advertising and to some extent, they think that Microsoft is associated with marketing, you know, bad marketing practices and that if we do mainstream marketing, we would end up being like Microsoft so, it’s going to be interesting over time, but we’ll see.
TS: Have you ever contributed either as a volunteer or I guess as an employee to any non-Mozilla open source projects?
TN: Yes, I am a Wikipedia contributor. Very confidential part of Wikipedia which is the Wikipedia Commons which is a set of documents that are to be used in the articles of the Wikipedia encyclopedia, so it happens that I’m an amateur photographer so I take pictures of animals, buildings, that are used as a reference, so I took photos of the Eifel Tower that I’ve been selected for the Eifel Tower article and also the Paris article in French and English and I took a photo of a red panda, a firefox, in a zoo which is used, that kind of thing that I do and I live in Paris so I took a lot of pictures of the Parisian monuments including Notre Dame and all that, so it’s useful for articles. It’s a real pleasure because you don’t have responsibility with them so if your photograph is bad, you don’t care. [laughs]
TS: How does being a member of both communities, how do you think the Mozilla community and the Wikipedia community similar and how are they different?
TN: And also I’ve been involved with other things other than Wikipedia, but my answer will be the same. One of the things that makes Firefox very special and it’s something defintely I did not anticipate and I’m glad I was wrong in that is that Firefox is generating revenue and it’s amazing. We have not— Well, the open source community has not found a good way to make money and make things sustainable. We have different business models, if you will, but Firefox has created the ultimate business model which has generated quite a lot of money without compromising on its—
We are very lucky because Wikipedia, for example, what they do is amazing but I think they have one part-time employee in the world. That’s all. I mean, truly like that. I’m sure they need staff just to make the servers running properly and dealing with paperwork and all that and they don’t have enough money and it’s too bad.
I’m also involved in a project called DotClear. DotClear is a blogging tool. It’s made by friends of mine, so it’s under GPL and it work perfectly with all browsers. It respects web standards which is important to generate content that is compatible with every browser and on top of that, it’s important because it helps people publishing blogs and will have the citizen have its word in cyberspace and so far it’s been the effort of one single guy working 80 hours a week including his day job to make it happen, plus like three guys managing the phones and all that, but it’s one single person carrying most of the project without making money out of it. It shouldn’t be like that.
I mean, I understand that a blogging tool is good for the web but there should be— Or maybe I’m just a helpless romantic, but, really, it shouldn’t be like that. Maybe it’s something you’ll see during this interview as I tend to think that things shouldn’t be like that. This is why I get involved. [laughs]
TS: How do you find a successful open source project? What elements or practices do you see as necessary for a developing a successful open source project?
TN: I don’t know how to define success. Well, for Firefox, I only know because we have that mission statement and we know what a challenge is, so market share for us is important. For other projects, I’m not sure. In some cases, market share could be bad for the project itself in case it’s not structured properly and all that.
Getting back to DotClear, for example, the number two ISP in France is starting to publicize the fact that it would be offering DotClear to every user of the ISP and the DotClear author surprisingly says it’s a terrible idea, I don’t support it. You can do anything you want. It’s GPL code so if you want to use, you go it, but as a person, as the main author, he said it’s a totally bad idea and so the ISP has stopped proposing it and it actually never happened and maybe it was a good thing because otherwise the structure of the projects would have collapsed under the load of potentially millions of users and they were not ready because they didn’t have any legal structure or anything like that. It would have been a curse more than a blessing for the project to be used by millions of people, people that don’t know what it is, people that would have expectations of the project and all that. I know what I say is probably meaningless to you in this case and I did not totally agree with what the author said by then, that success, but, yes, maybe success is not a good thing or it depends on what you want to achieve.
For Firefox, market share is part of our goal but for DotClear, it depends when you write a code, what you want to achieve, and in this case, I think it would more have been a distraction rather as a sign of success, but getting back to your question, there are— One of the lessons I’ve learned is that you—
When a leader decides to quit, he has to find someone else to replace him or her at the head of the project. This is maybe the number one lesson in having a project successful. I’ve seen it too many times that someone does something in the open source movement, gets burned out which, like I told you, the lack of business model is in many cases making that happen and so the person quits and the project dies and that’s sad. I mean, it’s bad, because people were relying on it and even if the source is open, it’s not as good as having an active community.
It’s also about having a community because the next person in charge will very likely to be found in the community and you need to have— You need to treat your community well and this is where the ego thing gets into the way. It’s hard to be able to have— You need to have an ego to start a project, but you probably need to get rid of it to have the product running over time, if you see what I mean and a strong ego is at the same time a good and a bad thing. It’s good at the beginning and it’s bad over time, if you will.
TS: What allows someone if a leader leaves, gets burned out, what allows someone else from the community to become a leader. How does one get from just being a member of the community to rise to a leadership position, in Mozilla or in open source in general?
TN: There’s no readymade answer to this question. It depends. I’m sure— Well, I know that there are some modules in the Mozilla project that are currently without an owner and it’s bad, so I don’t think we have the answer to this one, even for us who are a successful project.
For a person from the community to become a leader, it’s probably something you need to prepare. The person must be visible, must have shown his interest in the project. It’s something you do over time. It’s not like, okay, I’m going to quit, who’s going to replace me. It’s not going to work this way because maybe someone raises his hand and won’t be able to deliver and that’s bad because you have a fake leader who is preventing someone from taking the leadership, so it really needs to be someone that you have been working with and that has been demonstrating his skills and eagerness to have the project move forward, so the way I see it, maybe it’s just my way of being—
TS: Do you have any examples of those kinds of transitions where someone has left and someone new has had to take over and how that happened?
TN: I think it happens all the time. Whether I can give you Tristan’s example right off the top of my head considering the jet lag is another story.
TS: That’s okay.
TN: I forget. Yeah.
OR: Well, what, if anything, do you think Firefox and the popularity of Firefox will do for the open source software movement as a whole?
TN: Well, I don’t know what it’s going to do, but I can tell you what I hope it’s going to do and I hope it’s going to demonstrate to Joe User that open source is actually able to deliver great quality products, so I think or I hope that we’re showing the way, you know, leading the open source movement. I hope that people like Open Office Network or Wikipedia which is in a sense an open source movement project even though it’s not producing software anymore. MediaWiki which software is just something that comes on top.
I hope we can demonstrate to the world that open source is able to deliver great products. I cross my fingers. We’re not there yet. I think we need to achieve better market share for me to sleep better at night, but, yes, this is going to be a major improvement and I hope we’re going to change or influence IT and force big players to play nicely. We’ve seen, for example, Microsoft opening up a beta database for Internet Explorer 7 last week and many people say it comes directly from our bugzilla database and I think it’s good. I mean, more transparency, more quality assurance, better quality of products, better security, and all that, this is something we all need, right?
I mean, even if you decide to not use open source software, this is something you can ask your proprietary vendor—I want quality, I want a feedback system, all that, so, yes, we’re also influencing hopefully the proprietary world.
OR: That’s interesting.
TS: Great. I think that’s all we’ve got for you. We’ll let you off the hook. Just before we go, is there anyone else that you think we should, outside of kind of the big people that we already know about, the people who are here and kind of the bigger names in the field, is there anybody who you think has an interesting story to tell maybe in Europe that we would want to get in touch with that we might not know about.
TN: Yes, but I’m not sure he’s going to accept, so I’ll tell you his name—Peter Van der Beken. Peter is the person who has created Mozilla Europe with me. He is quite shy.
OR: We’re also planning on doing some IM interviews.
TN: Well, he’s here and it’s going to be easier if you catch him, I think, and then lock the door. [laughs] I think Peter, you know, Peter has been a contributor as a volunteer for quite a long time, back in ’99, I think, and has been hired by Netscape. Maybe he will tell you the story.
TN: And he’s been a volunteer when he was getting the boot like me, like everybody else, actually and he’s very on the volunteering side. He’s going to be, I think, quite— Well, he’s an engineer. He’s quiet, but he may be interesting for you to chat with. Very different perspective from mine.
OR: Thank you.
TS: Great, thank you.
Mozilla Digital Memory Bank, Object #7272, 4 May 2007, <http://mozillamemory.org/detailview.php?id=7272> (accesed 25 November 2015)
|Title:||Interview with Tristan Nitot|
|Subject:||Mozilla, Firefox, Mozilla Eurpoe, Tristan Nitot|
|Description:||Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, talks about the organization's history and other aspects of Mozilla and open source.|
|Format:||.aiff, .mp3, .pdf, .doc|